June is "Pride month in North America.I find it suprising how little people know about it and its beginings,I mean where it chose to begin.Gay awareness and support have been around for along time.It's far from just a street dance and a chance to dress outrageously. Nowdays our political voices have taken center stage, and thats fantastic, because thats what Pride is all about, awareness and solidarity.
This is where we chose our beginings
The Stonewall Inn
The weekend of June 27-29,1969 was a turning point in the struggle for LGBT equality.Gay and lesbian activism existed preceding this time,but the confrontations between police and the peolpe who chose to demonstrate at the Stonewall Inn in New York City became the catalyst of the movement and inspired gay men and lesbians to move their cause to new heights using entirely new tactics.
The birth of the Gay Pride Movement is not without controversy about what actually occurred during the riots.The Stonewall "riots" undeniably holds an honered and contentious place in LGBT mythology and history.
On Friday June 27, 1969 the world was mourning the death of Judy Garland.It's been speculated what effect her funeral, which took place in Manhattan, had on the events that would take place the next day.She was an icon in the gay community.
In the early morning hours of June 28, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a small bar located in Greenwich Village of New York City.
Even though it was run by the Mafia, the bar,like other gay bars in the city, were periodically raided by police.
Often times the more "deviant" patrons ( drag queens,butch lesbians,and queer people of color ) would be arrested and taken away by the police in paddy wagons.While the white customers looked on or quietly disappeared.Then the bar owners would pay a "token" fine, allowing them to open the next day.
This night the charge was illegal sale of alcohol ( it was illeagle to sell drinks to homosexuals publicly at this time ).The raid had a routine of plainclothesed and uniformed police entering the bar arresting the emplyees and then start ejecting the patrons one by one out onto the street.
But this raid was different,customers did not scurry away into the into the streets, instead a crowd had gathered outside the bar and soon after, the crowd had became boisterous, campy,and festive.Perhaps it was Miss Garlands death or maybe the summer heat or maybe bar patrons were becoming frustrated and angery with the regularity of the police raids.Or possibly it was witnessing several drag queens being physicaly forced into a paddy wagon.
Whatever it was, the onlookers lost their patiance.As far as who threw the first punch, there is controversy as to who initialy defied the police.I personaly believe it was a drag queen who later went on to be an advocate for homeless gay.
The crowd had now grown to several hundred people as people in the nieghborhood gathered their friends to watch the spectcal,erupted.People began to throw coins at the police,representing the pay offs and graft the gay bar owners had to make to the police in order to stay open and in business.That quickly changed from coins to rocks and bottles.
The police were suprised and unused to resistance from the customers and patrons of gay bars,They beat those they could reach with nightsticks,but the police were forced back into the Stonewall to take refuge by locking themselves inside the Stonewall.
The first night rioting at the Stonewall ended the morning of Saturday June 28.That night the second riot broke out.Instead of neighbors and bar customers ,word had spread and the rank of demonstraters was in the thousands now,,,,,,,all in the name of Gay Pride,,,,,they flocked to the streets in front of and around the Stonewall Inn.Again there were confrontations with the police going on untill the early hours of the morning.
Over the next week, the protests and demonstrations continued in Greenwich Villiage,but much smaller.The sense of anger,and the discovery of strength in numbers could match and even defeat police,and realizing that the LGBT community did not have to tolerate the customary bullying and harassment by the authorites would led into a new era of politiacization and acceptance.
We found our voice.